Yohn says he will put himself on stand, asks judge for help to set up interviews with potential witnesses in Adams County Jail

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QUINCY — Throughout the testimony given during the Bradley Yohn sexual assault trial on Wednesday, the defendant dropped hints of his own defense strategy to come.

Yohn, 36, is charged with home invasion with a dangerous weapon, home invasion predicated on criminal sexual assault, aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon and residential burglary. He allegedly committed the crimes on Nov. 9, 2021, at the home of Christine “Tina” Lohman Schmitt. She died 33 days later on Dec. 12, 2021.

Yohn is defending himself pro se with Public Defender Todd Nelson serving as standby counsel.

During the afternoon testimony of John Schone, an investigator for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department, Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones asked if he interviewed Yohn when he drove to Springfield on Nov. 10 — the day after Yohn was arrested. Schone said he did briefly.

When Jones asked if Schone asked about the last time Yohn was in Quincy, Yohn objected.

“This has already been suppressed. It’s not admissible,” Yohn said. “We went over this approximately three and a half months ago.”

Judge Roger Thomson excused the jury to discuss Yohn’s objection. Yohn explained that he believed he made the motion in June 2022, but it wasn’t heard until January or February. Jones and Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck looked over the deputy clerk’s shoulder for several minutes as they reviewed the documents filed in the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office. 

Assistant State’s Attorneys Josh Jones, left, and Laura Keck, right, look at a computer screen with the deputy clerk to search for a motion to suppress allegedly made by Bradley Yohn. | Pool photo by Randy Phillips/MRN

When Jones said he couldn’t find the motion, Yohn could only remember his statements to Schone were “suppressed earlier this year. It was one of the motions that took a long time to be heard.”

After continued search proved fruitless, Jones eventually said he wouldn’t ask about Yohn’s statement.

“But again, if the defendant chooses to testify, we reserve the right to use it on rebuttal,” Jones added.

“That’s fine with me. I will be testifying,” Yohn said. 

It’s the first time Yohn has revealed his plans to do so.

Before the day’s lunch break, Yohn told Thomson he has a right to interview witnesses. Jones said he understands Yohn has made a request to interview someone in the Adams County Jail who has refused to be interviewed. Yohn said he wanted to speak with Michael Cameron, Karen Blackledge, Travis Wiley and his father — all who are on the witness list and all, at one time, recently lodged in the Adams County Jail.

Thomson told Yohn people have a right to refuse to be interviewed.

Bradley Yohn, right watches surveillance video of himself entering a convenience store in Hannibal on Nov. 9, 2021. | Pool photo by Randy Phillips

After testimony was concluded for the day, Yohn complained to Thomson again, saying he “can’t get anything done on interviews.” He says he was told by a sergeant in the jail during the lunch break he “couldn’t do anything” without a court order. Yohn said he wanted to ask people face-to-face if they would agree to an interview with him.

Jones said Karen Blackledge, Yohn’s alleged accomplice on the night of the attack on Lohman Schmitt, has said doesn’t want to be interviewed by Yohn. She received a 40-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections in April 2022 after pleading guilty to home invasion and aggravated sexual assault charges. She has been brought back to the Adams County Jail for the trial.

Cameron, who is serving a four-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections, also was brought to the jail last week. However, Jones said he has been returned to the DOC. Jones questioned the relevance of interviews with Travis Wiley, who is awaiting trial after being charged more than five years ago with first-degree murder in the death of an infant, and Yohn’s father. 

Yohn said Wiley would be a rebuttal witness for two witnesses Jones has on the witness list, but Jones said he didn’t plan to call either witness. Yohn said his father and sister have tried to visit for months, but he claims Public Defender John Citro (the first counsel assigned to Yohn after his arrest) denied his chance to meet with them. He claims they have an alibi for where he was on Nov. 9, 2021.

Yohn later said his father and sister were denied four times to meet him. He said his father got so depressed that “he went into a stupor.” He says the interview with his father would simply be an interview of a witness. He asked Thomson for the order so he can “handle his business and do what I need to do.” 

Jones said it was a little late for Yohn to provide an “alibi witness.”

Thomson denied the motions to allow Yohn to interview his father or Wiley. 

Jones said he would ask jail administrator Brian Curran to ask Blackledge, but Yohn protested. Jones then said he would ask Blackledge himself, but Yohn didn’t like that idea, either. Thomson chastised Yohn for complaining, saying Jones was going “above and beyond.”

Before Thomson called an end to the day’s proceedings, Yohn said he wanted to put on the record he was again being denied assistance from an attorney, disregarding Nelson’s presence. Yohn unsuccessfully argued on July 7 a motion for the appointment of counsel — even though he has twice been appointed public defenders from Adams County and instead chose to represent himself. 

Before court proceedings started Wednesday, Thomson dealt with the presence of Yohn’s cousin, Travis Bloom, who could be heard yelling outside the courtroom. Bloom also was denied entry into the courtroom while the trial was under way on Tuesday and could be heard outside making comments. Jones said the Adams County Sheriff’s Department made the decision to bar Bloom from the trial because of vulgar comments he made outside.

Yohn complained that his family has been “repetitively denied.”

“I understand Travis Bloom is an idiot. I understand that,” Yohn said. “He holds a good heart. They didn’t arrest him yesterday, if he did all them things, they probably should have arrested him. I mean, these are very serious matters. To limit him from the courtroom, simply because of this, is ridiculous. A common person wouldn’t know that you can’t come during a time that’s not a recess. I believe he should be given a chance.”

Thomson asked Deputy Scott Doellman to step outside the courtroom to see if anything was posted about limiting access to the courtroom. Doellman found a note on the door that said people could only enter the courtroom during recess or breaks.

Thomson denied Bloom’s access to the courtroom.

“Your, as you describe, idiot relative Travis Bloom should have read the door sign before he tried to enter the courtroom,” the judge said. “So he was advised of the court rules.”

This photo of Bradley Yohn was taken when he was arrested Nov. 10, 2021 in Springfield. | Pool photo by Randy Phillips

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